Philly’s finest The Wonder Years brought their mammoth headline tour to London recently, with not one, not two, but three very different support acts: math rock family band Tiny Moving Parts, Brit pop-punkers Trash Boat and our favourite Canadian punks PUP. If there’s one thing you’ll notice straight away it’s how different each band on the bill is, which we’re personally into. Can you imagine if it were just 4 pop-punk bands one after the other? Yeah, that could get old pretty quick.
We managed to head down early enough to catch Trash Boat. Formed only in 2014, it’s obvious how young the band are, obviously very keen and eager-eyed to be playing their songs to a venue as big as London’s Koko. With a painstakingly pop-punk sound, we can see how fans of the headliner’s earlier material could easily find a liking to Trash Boat, so there was definitely some head bobbing here and there from the crowd. As with most pop-punk bands though, unless you’re doing something completely different to everyone else (which is very difficult), it’s hard to leave a lasting impression, especially if the bands who play after you are PUP and The Wonder Years.
It’s no secret that some members of the crowd had come to the gig primarily for PUP, with quite a number of people shuffling backwards as soon as the band finished their set. Quite frankly, we’re not too surprised. The band turned heads when they released their self-titled debut, and again last year with the release of The Dream Is Over. But once you catch them live, that’s when they truly capture your attention. The Toronto band were clearly humbled by the reception they were getting from the audience, who weren’t scared to show their excitement, randomly breaking out into “Canada” chants between tracks. Delivering an energetic set from start to finish, no song short of passion, PUP reminded us that 2017 is going to be a massive year for them.
The way a band chooses to begin their set is a definite indicator of how we can expect the rest of the night to go. The Wonder Years walked onto a dimly lit stage to the acoustic title track of their last album ‘No Closer To Heaven‘, and what a powerful way to begin the show. The voices of the crowd singing along rang through the venue in a goosebump worthy way. This is just a taster of what’s to come, as the night will consist of the audience outsinging Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell as they sing along to the band’s most anthemic tracks. While with each album the band slowly grow out of that pop-punk label just a little more each time, one thing remains the same throughout all these years; and that’s the way so many seem to find solace in their lyrics.
Beginning their set with an acoustic track, but ever so quickly shift into punchy ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ straight after shows just how versatile The Wonder Years really are, not only shifting between their numerous albums but also between moods and tones. While we love singing along to iconic bangers like ‘There, There’ or ‘Dismantling Summer’, it’s lovely to see the band slow down every now and again with the likes of ‘Madelyn’ and ‘The Devil In My Bloodstream’, with sparks of cell phone lights and lighters twinkling across the many levels of Koko.
The Philly six-piece re-emerged on stage for their encore of ‘Came Out Swinging’, but not before taking a photo with the sold out crowd to show grandma back at home. With musicianship that doesn’t falter, this is the perfect closer for the night, because if anything The Wonder Years truly did come out swinging that night. With an unspoken understanding with the crowd, both the band and their fans have made it a night to remember; full of tear jerking moments, countless singalongs and endless energy.